Coalition Grants Helping Groups Participate in Great Lakes Restoration Initiative

$200,000 in grants leads to more than $1.6 million in federal funds for restoration projects in high-priority areas

01-26-2012 // Jordan Lubetkin
Lake Superior

The Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition today announced that $200,000 in grants it issued in 2010 to help local conservation groups participate in the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative has resulted in more than $1.6 million in Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funds for restoration projects—an 8-to-1 return on investment.

The $200,000 in coalition grants also led to an additional $4.2 million in state, federal and private funds to support restoration work.

“The coalition’s grant program is producing results,” said Jeff Skelding, campaign director of the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition. “The program is successfully helping local groups participate in the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and other state and federal restoration programs. Our grants, and the additional funds they leveraged, will accelerate restoration activities in the areas most in need of restoration and in places that can provide the most ecological benefit.”

Total 2010 Coalition Grant Awards

$200,000

Total GLRI Applications

12

Total GLRI Awards

6

Total GLRI Funding Leveraged

$1,693,963

Return on Investment (GLRI)

8-to-1

Additional Funding Leveraged

$4,215,832

Total Restoration Funding Leveraged

$5,909,795

Return on Investment (All restoration programs)

29-to-1

A complete list of the coalition’s 2010 grants and evaluation can be found at http://healthylakes.org/healing-our-waters-grants/

For the past two years, the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition has awarded grants of up to $15,000 to local groups so that they can compete for federal Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grants, which support activities to clean up toxic sediments, restore habitat and wetlands, confront invasive species and reduce polluted run-off from cities and farms.

The coalition focuses its grants program in five geographic priority areas, as selected by scientists, where restoration dollars will be most beneficial: The St. Louis River and St. Louis Bay in Lake Superior; the waters of Lake Michigan in the Chicagoland area; Lake Huron’s Saginaw Bay; western Lake Erie and eastern Lake Ontario.

“The coalition grants have provided a boost for local groups that are on the front lines of Great Lakes restoration efforts,” said Jill Ryan, executive director of Freshwater Future, which acts as the Healing Our Waters Coalition’s Implementation Coordinator. “We’re glad to see high-priority areas receive funding and look forward to working with the U.S. EPA to continue investing federal dollars so that we get the most restoration bang for our buck.”

The coalition grants supported a variety of restoration projects that are addressing serious problems facing the Great Lakes, including: phosphorus pollution; noxious algae; failing septic systems; and the invasive reed Phragmites, which is crowding out native plant species at numerous sites across the region. The grants also supported efforts to remove dams, restore wetlands and other fish and wildlife habitat.

Among the coalition’s grant recipients, Alliance for the Great Lakes in Chicago, Ill., received a $15,000 coalition grant, which helped the group win $150,000 from Sustain Our Great Lakes and $226,950 from EPA through the competitive grants process under the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

“With a jump start from HOW’s investment, communities up and down the Illinois shoreline are making the most of their unique glacial ravines,” said Angela Larsen, Coastal Program manager for the Alliance for the Great Lakes. “Great Lakes coasts are home to a stunning array of biodiversity, and we’re ecstatic to help landowners make the restoration connection to the lakes.”

Western Lake Erie Waterkeeper Association in Toledo, Ohio, received $15,000 from the coalition, which was leveraged to receive almost $500,000 from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

“Getting a grant for preliminary work to set up an invasive species early detection project in western Lake Erie was great,” said Sandy Bihn, Lake Erie Waterkeeper. “Invasive species pose a real threat to the Lake Erie and the other Great Lakes. The initial small grant helped establish new networks to connect research with Lake Erie community-based education and outreach—collaboration that will continue with the support of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grant.”

The Bad River Watershed Association in Ashland, Wis., received a $3,000 grant from the coalition that helped the organization earn a $300,000 Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grant.

“The Healing Our Waters grant the Bad River Watershed Association (BRWA) received in 2010 was an important part of helping BRWA strengthen relationships with local natural resources partners” said Matt Hudson, Watershed Action Director for the Bad River Watershed Association. “These strong relationships helped BRWA receive a portion of a 2-year GLRI grant in 2011 and lay the foundation for much of our work to maintain and improve the health of the Bad River Watershed.”

The St. Louis River Alliance in Duluth, Minn., received two seed grants from the coalition. The first, for $10,000, led to $250,000 Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The second award for $14,976 led to a Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for $268,401.

“The coalition grant program provided key funding that made it possible for us to seek Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funding,” said Julene Boe, executive director for the St. Louis River Alliance. “I'm very pleased that these efforts were successful in receiving funding for two projects that will make a difference in the St. Louis River Area of Concern.”

The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative has provided $775 million for Great Lakes restoration projects in its first two years. The program received another $300 million in fiscal year 2012.

Restoring the lakes is good for fish and wildlife, tourism, human health and the economy.  A study by the Brookings Institution found that every $1 investment in Great Lakes restoration leads to $2 in economic benefit for the eight-state region of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

A recent study by Grand Valley State University economists found that a $10 million restoration project at Muskegon Lake in Michigan produced more than $66 million in economic benefits via increased property values, more tourism and higher tax revenues.

“Great Lakes restoration produces results,” said Skelding. “But there is more work to do. We look forward to working with the U.S. Congress and President Obama to maintain funding in the fiscal year 2013 budget for this essential work. Cutting funding will cost more money, because projects will only become more difficult and expensive the longer we wait.”

The Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition consists of more than 120 environmental, conservation, outdoor recreation organizations, zoos, aquariums and museums representing millions of people, whose common goal is to restore and protect the Great Lakes.

For more information visit: http://healthylakes.org/

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